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North American least shrew

North American least shrew (Cryptotis parva)
Photo © A. F. Meyer, Mammal Images Library of the American Society of Mammalogists

Features and Behaviors

The North American least shrew is two and one-half to three and one-half inches long, including the tail. It has short, gray-cinnamon body fur with lighter fur on the belly. The tail is short, about the length of one-third of its head and body combined.

The North American least shrew may be found statewide in Illinois. It lives in grassy or weedy fields where it eats insects, spiders and earthworms. This mammal uses a shallow underground burrow system. It may build a nest in the burrow or under debris or weeds on the ground. Young are born in the spring and fall. The gestation period is about three weeks, and the average number of young per litter is five. Young least shrews grow to adult size by one month after birth.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Eulipotyphla
Family: Soricidae

Illinois Status: common, native